How to stay focused in a meeting

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Whether it's a meeting with your boss, your doctor, your kid's teacher, or a guy trying to sell you a new cellphone, you want to be sharp and focused. Psychologist Dr. Cynthia Green, author of Total Memory Workout, has tips to help you mentally prepare for a meeting.

How to stay focused in a meeting

Meetings, everyone has them. From parent-teacher conferences to the weekly office status report, here’s how to get focused and organized preparing for your next meeting.

  • Schedule meetings for yourself at least five minutes early. Use this time to review, prep and get yourself organized ahead of the scheduled meeting time. Create a list of questions to bring to the meeting.
  • It is normal to feel anxious or rushed during meetings. But it is important to stay calm. When you are anxious, take deep breaths or count backward from 20 to clear your mind and return your focus to the moment.
  • Staple blank sheets of paper inside your meeting folder. This provides an easy place to jot down notes, tasks and important next steps.
  • At the end of a meeting, take a few minutes to review. Encourage all meeting participants to do this as well. Getting closure or a meeting synopsis will help everyone remember important details.
Transcript

STACEY: I'm Stacey Tisdale for howdini.com. Do you know how to stay mentally focused when preparing for a meeting? Dr. Cynthia Green, a psychologist and author of Total Memory Workout is here with some tips. Thank you so much for joining us.

DR. GREEN: Thank you.

STACEY: Now what are some of the greatest challenges that people face when staying focused in a meeting?

DR. GREEN: First of all, we often don't give ourselves enough time to prepare beforehand. So we're so busy before we get there that we walk in and we don't have a list of questions prepared if it's a parent-teacher conference, or if it's a project meeting for work we're not really sure where we are. What we're supposed to be doing. What kind of things we want to make we get done. So that we don't take that opportunity and always sometimes we're simply anxious. We get nervous, especially if we want to speak up in a meeting. We feel stressed that we're not prepared. And we feel rushed. So the ways that we can help ourselves is first of all, calm down.

STACEY: Mm-hmm.

DR. GREEN: You know when you're in that meeting, if you're talking to your child's principal or coach or if you are in a work meeting, you know take some deep breaths if you're feeling anxious or rushed. Realize that other people feel anxious and nervous when they step into that meeting. That coach might not feel totally prepared to talk to you either. And give yourself a little bit of a break there by counting backwards from twenty, doing something to help yourself calm down and kind of feel clearer in the moment.

STACEY: What if I don't feel organized when I go into a meeting?

DR. GREEN: One of the things I like to suggest my clients do is schedule that meeting for yourself to begin five minutes ahead of time. So that you in your own calendar, in your own head have five extra minutes to review the material for that meeting. When you're in that meeting, take your meeting folder and on the left hand side just staple some blank pieces of paper, keep track, keep notes on the meeting. And keep track of the tasks that are required at the end of that meeting. Then when you go back to that meeting, review what was done before so that you have an opportunity to rehearse that information and bring it back up into more recent memory. At the end of the meeting, try to get the group to do that too. Try to get some synopsis, closure on the meeting, so everybody then has an opportunity to rehearse and review the information. You'll be helping everyone remember better if you do that.

STACEY: Great advice Dr. Cynthia Green, psychologist and author of Total Memory Workout. Thank you for joining us.

DR. GREEN: Thank you.

STACEY: I'm Stacey Tisdale for howdini.com.

meet theexpert
  • Dr. Cynthia R. Green

    Dr. Cynthia R. Green Psychologist, Author Cynthia R. Green, Ph.D. is a nationally recognized expert on memory fitness and brain health. She founded The Memory Enhancement Program at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 1996, and is the author of several self-help books. more about this expert »

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